The influence of parental educational level on the development of atopic sensitization, wheezing and eczema during the first year of life
Several studies have investigated the association between socioeconomic status and the occurrence of allergies. Nevertheless, the results remain contradictory. The aim of this study was to evaluate the associations between parental education and the occurrence of atopic sensitization, recurrent wheezing and eczema during the first year of life, differentiating between atopic and non-atopic disorders based on specific serum IgE. We conducted an aetiological study in 690 children, based on a prospective birth cohort project in which environmental and health information was gathered using questionnaires. At the age of 1 yr a blood sample was taken for quantification of specific IgE. Adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were computed as measures of association between the outcomes and parental education. Parental educational level was positively associated with the occurrence of atopic sensitization (OR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.0-4.4) and eczema (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1-3.4), but negatively with the occurrence of recurrent wheezing (OR: 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2-0.8) in the first year of life. Atopic recurrent wheezing was positively associated with the education of the parents, whereas non-atopic recurrent wheezing was negatively associated. When maternal and paternal education were considered separately, only maternal education had a significant influence. Our results suggest that aspects associated with a high maternal educational level may play an important role in the development of atopic disorders.